Jose Mourinho said on Friday that he was so convinced Chelsea were doing the right thing in selling Juan Mata that he would also have sanctioned the Spanish midfielder’s sale to title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.
The Chelsea manager launched a detailed explanation of the reasons behind the transfer of Mata to Manchester United, he said, “sooner rather than later” – and criticised Arsène Wenger for suggesting it was a way of undermining fellow challengers for the Premier League title.
Asked if he would have sold to Arsenal or City, the teams directly above Chelsea in the Premier League table, Mourinho said: “Yes, honestly. A team can only play with 11 players, not 12. City, Arsenal and United are full of top players, so if Juan plays for them it means somebody else is not playing. So why not? It’s the same in other countries [that players move among top clubs], so why not here?
“We had clubs that contacted Chelsea, but with a real offer adapted to the potential of the player, and to what the player means to Chelsea, only United offered that.”
To Wenger’s complaint that Chelsea benefited from Mata facing Arsenal and City in a United shirt in the second half of the season, Mourinho said: “Wenger complaining is normal because he always does. This is the market. We don’t do the market, we don’t do the rules... he should be very happy that Chelsea sold a player like Juan Mata. But I think it [complaining] is also a bit of his nature.”
Manuel Pellegrini said that he did not agree with the principle of Mata joining United in mid-season. “I think if a player plays for a club for more than half of the season, a club with money can take the best players from the other teams. But the rules allow it, so [there is] nothing to say.”
The Manchester City manager clarified that his complaint was not because United were still to play City at Old Trafford, while they have taken on Chelsea twice already. “I think in this transfer window, players that play more than five or six games for the same club should not change to another,” he added.